Marxist Critique Process

The fifth essay we wrote for this semester involved the Marxist, or social, critique, in which we analyzed Hamlet by looking at class and authority within the play. To this end, I looked at the work of Karl Marx and Louis Althusser and, while also looking at the text, came up with my question for this essay: how does Laertes fit into the system of wealth and power in Hamlet? From this, I developed my first thesis that Laertes actively rebelled against the types of structures Marx and Althusser outline that are present in Hamlet. However, my first draft discussed social inequalities broadly, and I did not refine it more towards Laertes until my submission draft.

From here, I yet again created  a first draft which was then peer reviewed. The comments I received are including with the draft. In this first draft, I had not yet written my summaries of the work of Marx and Athusser, which I believe ultimately hurt my first submission. However, my peers did comment on what I had and, save for a few minor things, I seemed on the right track.

From there, I decided, after a discussion with my professor, to narrow my ideas down from broad inequality to specifically looking at Laertes. With this, I then made my submission draft. I personally felt very confident in this draft. However, when I received feedback from my professor, I again discovered I had not accurately represented my outside sources. Specifically, I had added opposition as a part of Marxist ideology and based my essay around this, when in fact Marx didn’t explicitly discuss resistance in the work I was looking at. It resulted from others interpreting his work, but not from the work itself. This demonstrated me bringing in my own ideas about what a methodology means, as I associated Marx’s ideas with socialism and communism in my head, two things that I feel are associated with resistance. This was the most glaring flaw in this draft, in my opinion.

So for the portfolio, I decided to try and fix it. Upon reviewing my work, I realized that Laertes was actually not resisting against his society, but rather asserted his own class and power. This fundamentally changed how my essay was, as it reversed my thesis. I went from talking about Laertes as a social force for good to him simply preserving the status quo. I then edited a new draft  for more peer feedback, which I then received. From here, I did some light expansion on ideas resulting from this feedback and prepared it for the final portfolio.

This essay is actually my personal favorite because of the subject matter and also how it shows my adaptability. I was able to completely retool my argument based on the feedback I received from my professor and peers, resulting in what I believe is my best work of the semester. Thus, I decided to include it in the presentation portfolio, which you can see here.